The latest edition of its Tourism Highlights, published on Monday, shows international arrivals reached 1.323 million last year.
The figure represents an 84 million increase over 2016, and a new record, with the sector also recording “uninterrupted growth” in arrivals for eight consecutive years.
Europe and Africa led the regions with increases in arrivals, with growth of 8% and 9% respectively.
WTO added that tourism is the world’s third largest export category, earning $1.3 trillion in receipts in 2017: an increase of 5%.
Meanwhile, total exports from international tourism stood at $1.6 trillion, or an average of $4 billion a day: that is, seven per cent of the world’s exports.
“These strong 2017 results were driven by sustained travel demand for destinations across all world regions, including a firm recovery by those that have suffered from security challenges in recent years,” WTO said in a press release.
“Strong outbound demand from virtually all source markets, including rebounds from major emerging economies Brazil and the Russian Federation, benefited both advanced and emerging destinations”.
7 of the 10 top tourism destinations are also leaders worldwide in both international tourist arrivals and international tourism receipts: China, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.
China also was responsible for generating nearly one-fifth of the world’s total tourism spending in 2017. Citizens of the world’s most populous country spent $258 billion on international travel last year.
WTO added that so far, 2018 shows international tourism continues to grow, “with a year-on-year increase of 6% in arrivals between January and April.”